Metropolitan Ballroom reopens, mixing modern flair and 1930s allure

Notes of a glowing past tease guests at D'amico's newly reinvented Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom.

Notes of a glowing past tease guests at D'amico's newly reinvented Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom. Travis Anderson Photography

The Metropolitan Ballroom and Clubroom, an exclusive venue of D’Amico Catering, celebrated its grand opening this past Tuesday with a champagne flute cheers and a swift, sweet samba.

Its “old is new again” renovation brightened up the Golden Valley space from its previous dark wood past, decked with a crisp, light gray stage curtain and a stunning bubble-inspired light fixture over the dance floor. Now the place is bright and airy—no doubt inspired by a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance scene.

The freshly enameled white woodwork and vintage modern light fixtures make the ballroom appear both modern and hallmarked. Yet still it feels like a refreshingly bright and breathtaking homage to the innocent enamour that was the 1930s—almost like the Titanic had been remodeled by Restoration Hardware. 

Best seats in the house.

Best seats in the house. Brittany Chaffee

Yes, you read that right: Its aesthetic is distinctly British steamship-meets-gleaming-crystals. 

The minute we walked in, the place shone with genuine effort. Dashing in pink feathers, Drag Queen Barb Barb pushed a dainty dessert cart through the lounge area. The room smelled like candle smoke and sizzling Snake River wagyu beef, soft enough to be cut with the side of a fork. The sweet pepper caponata on the side acted as a fellow complement, paired with pine nuts and shaved black truffle.

D’Amico’s graceful food flex didn’t stop there, either.

For the launch event, blush champagne flutes of gin were offered and distributed by dapper men in suits, like Men in Black of a blissful kind. Stone crab claws rested on baths of D’Amico carved ice. A front and center vegetable charcuterie tower as tall as two humans standing on top of each other was stockpiled with terrines, nut butters, and gourmet brie.

Gourmet cheeses, fruits and vegetables literally towered over guests.

Gourmet cheeses, fruits and vegetables literally towered over guests. Brittany Chaffee

The caviar bar was full of color: bowls of tomato pearls, crostini with burrata and basil crystals, and Thai crab salad with kaffir lime and a mint spritzer on top. Oysters Rockefeller, the star of the show, rested on a bed of pink sea salt shavings. Waldorf chicken salad atop purple endive, a final nod to a summer delight, floated around on graceful servers' arms. The room was bustling with rose gold lighting and conversation, little gasps of air as people twirled perfectly peppered pasta into their mouths.  

A lone treat from the caviar tower.

A lone treat from the caviar tower. Brittany Chaffee

Everything in the room burst with detail. The brass chandeliers and nightstands with leg rests even looked as if they could come alive on their legs and claws. Boisterous blankets of fox-colored fur poured over white love seats paired with burgundy pillows, glitter, and rose petals. Patina candle holders were everywhere, cradling flickering flames against rose gold mirrors. 

The band played Rosemary Clooney’s “Mambo Italiano” as we popped Opera Torte and snow crab legs. Even the lead singer from Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra, a bombastic blonde, sported a bedazzled water bottle.

Don't ask. Just bask.

Don't ask. Just bask. Travis Anderson Photography

D’Amico Catering began operating events at The Metropolitan in 1996, and if you ever get the chance to experience the ballroom, you’ll feel the history that lives inside. Beyond its striking beauty, the room has a delectable essence (like how First Avenue has an essence of dirty, daring souls or playoff baseball exudes a sense of under-the-lights romance). There’s something sitting comfortably within the Ballroom’s walls. 

I was perplexed until a nice older woman sat beside me near the dance floor, munching on a spoonful of Black Forest Cherry Parfait. I asked her about the history. “Oh yes,” she said, “This used to be Rupert’s Nightclub.”

The Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra serenades guests from the clubroom stage.

The Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra serenades guests from the clubroom stage. Brittany Chaffee

The nightclub had been full of dark wood and red and green stage lighting, much like Mancini’s or the original Nye’s. Of course there was a stage tucked in the corner, reminiscent of the current Metropolitan Ballroom. In April of 1990, fresh before jetting off to launch a four-month European and Japanese tour, Prince himself took over Rupert’s Nightclub for his first concert in 18 months. His set lasted two hours. He played music from the Purple Rain sequel, Graffiti Bridge, “Purple Rain” and “1999.” Tickets were $100.

Nightclubs of yesteryear like the Metropolitan Ballroom could accommodate 800 people and often hosted a boisterous, cranking orchestra nightly. American Cafe and Coco Lezzone lived adjacent to this place, one of the first restaurants to honor American regional food instead of prime rib and luxurious California cheeses. Previous to this, it had been known that Jolly Trolls occupied the space, offering an all-you-could-consume Swedish smorgasbord. There’d always been enough meatballs and cranberry fluff to fill the room, holding the warmth of upward of 500 people. The buffet was decorated with animatronic trolls. The clubroom became a monstrous creature in a different heyday, stretching from the early ’80s until it closed in 1992 after drugs and sex took a firm hold.

My modern-day, rainy night at the Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom didn’t end with sex or pickled herring. It closed with a salted butterscotch lollipop and sparkling rose. The red carpet leading into the parking lot, paired with the distant zing of tires on 394, left me feeling spellbound and nostalgic. 

Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom
5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley

The stylish new Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom is used as a memorable venue for corporate events, fundraisers, and weddings. More information at their website or by phone: 612-238-4444